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Salon Staff
October 16, 2000 11:30PM (UTC)

Flophouse: Life on the Bowery, by David Isay and Stacy Abramson
This book of photographs and first-person accounts is the partner volume to an unforgettable radio documentary (aired on NPR) about the guys who live in what Isay and Abramson call "the shabbiest hotel accommodations imaginable" in Manhattan's Bowery district. You know the thousand stories said to lurk in the naked city? Well, these men have at least a hundred of the most eccentric, amazing and heartbreaking of those stories. A truly alarming number of the individuals included are former academics, but drugs and mental illness are what have brought most of them to skid row. As one contributor puts it, "There's no book you could possibly read that can teach you more than watching the human animal starve himself of everything in a place like this."

--Laura Miller

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A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
This is the first part of a six-book fantasy series -- "Song of Ice and Fire" -- with three books out so far. It's one of the most evocative fantasy sagas I've read, right up there with Stephen R. Donaldson and Tolkien. It's set in a place called the Seven Kingdoms, which is a vaguely Arthurian land of lords, ladies and knights, with Tolkienesque magic. The Seven Kingdoms have a lot of problems: major dynastic struggles, a nine-year winter coming on, evil dead advancing from the north, barbarians invading from the east. It's remarkably well-written.

--Andrew Leonard

Recent books praised by Salon's critics

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Upside Down by Eduardo Galeano
The author of "Memory of Fire" delivers a scathing, mischievous indictment of North America's hypocrisy and consumer culture.
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The Bridegroom by Ha Jin
The National Book Award-winning author of "Waiting" is in fine form with new tales of ordinary Chinese angling for love, sex and Party favors.
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The Boxer's Heart by Kate Sekules
Bloodied, bruised and elated, one woman offers an account of her love affair with boxing.
Reviewed by Susan Shapiro
[10/04/00]

An American Story by Debra Dickerson
The passionate, category-defying journalist levels her tough gaze on her own journey from the ghetto to Harvard Law School and beyond.
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Cherry by Mary Karr
Though she didn't start the memoir craze, Karr feeds the frenzy with "Cherry," the luscious tale of her coming-of-age.
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The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay by Michael Chabon
In the rapturous, panoramic new novel by the author of "Wonder Boys," two midcentury comic-book writers battle evil and celebrate escape in all its forms.
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The Golden Age by Gore Vidal
Vidal delivers the final volume of the American Chronicle series, his sweeping, score-settling fictional history of the United States.
Reviewed by George Rafael
[09/20/00]

Into the Tangle of Friendship by Beth Kephart
A memoir that celebrates the most ubiquitous, least definable passion.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Judd
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Noodling for Flatheads by Burkhard Bilger
A tribute to moonshiners, squirrel-brain eaters, cockfighters and other Southern holdouts against a bland and uniform national culture.
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The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
The novelist's latest masterwork blends mystery, futuristic fantasy and family saga.
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Pagan Babies by Elmore Leonard
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Nothing Like It in the World by Stephen E. Ambrose
The bestselling historian serves up the stirring tale of the unsung men who built the transcontinental railroad.
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Keep Australia on Your Left by Eric Stiller
The story of an attempt to kayak around Australia that ended -- refreshingly -- not with triumph or disaster but with honest failure.
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NYPD: A City and Its Police by James Lardner and Thomas Repetto
Behind the "blue wall of silence" of America's biggest and oldest police force, two authors find equal parts heroism and corruption
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The Secret Parts of Fortune by Ron Rosenbaum
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The Heartsong of Charging Elk by James Welch
In this moving, nourishing novel, the Native American writer probes the culture shock of an Oglala Sioux abandoned in France by Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.
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[08/15/00]

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The Making of Intelligence by Ken Richardson
A new attempt to answer a stubborn old question: If humans are such an intelligent species, why can't we figure out what IQ tests measure?
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Writing on Drugs by Sadie Plant
The author embarks on a stimulating trip into literature's strangest, smokiest den.
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The Dragon Syndicates by Martin Booth
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Herman Melville by Elizabeth Hardwick
A great critic takes on a great novelist, finding agony, homoeroticism and, ultimately, mystery.
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[07/26/00]

Assassination by Miles Hudson
A historian coolly assesses whether killing a leader is a useful political tactic.
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Little Saint: The Hours of Saint Foy by Hannah Green
On the trail of a French martyr beheaded by her father for embracing Christianity instead of the goddess Diana.
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